Posts Tagged “2012 primary”

Rick Santorum speaks in Eastlake, OhioI’ve blogged about GOP presidential candidate and militant Christofascist Rick Santorum a number of times already. As his candidacy has slumped, I’d hoped I’d be able to avoid blogging any more about this walking train-wreck. But alas, Santorum has — once again — posed as a theologian. This time, he’s declared that Christianity — as he sees it, anyway — is the source of freedom in the US. ABC News’ The Note blog reports on his ludicrous Religious Rightist pontification, earlier in March (WebCite cached article):

Talking about American exceptionalism, Santorum said the concept of equality came from Christianity, not Islam.

“I love it because the left says equality, equality. Where does that concept come from? Does it come from Islam? Does it come from other cultures around the world? Are men and women treated equally? Are adults and children treated equally? No,” Santorum said. “It comes it comes from our culture and tradition, from the Judeo-Christian ethic. That’s where this comes from-the sense of equality.”

I’ve read this several times and cannot figure out where or how Islam comes into play in this. It doesn’t seem to be of any relevance to the subject at hand. I can only assume it was his attempt to somehow work some derision of Islam into his speech, and thus appeal to any Neocrusaders in the crowd.

As for whether or not Christianity, as a religion, supports or opposes the concept of equality, the record on that is slightly mixed. Christianity appeared in the Greco-Roman world, initially in its eastern portion, and as such was a product of that culture. Greco-Roman society was quite stratified, along many dimensions. There were a number of social classes, with the aristocracy at the top, and several layers underneath, ranging down to unskilled laborers and slaves at the bottom. The genders were divided. Ethnic groups tended to be segregated, in large cities often living in enclaves apart from others. Religions tended, too, to separate people, e.g. with Jews living in their own quarters of cities. The Greco-Roman world was one in which people were born into any number of stratifications, and with few exceptions, they stayed within them their entire lives.

The earliest extant Christian documents, the seven “genuine” Pauline epistles*, which date to the 50s CE, exhibit something of a departure from this, at least doctrinally. For example, Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). (Note, Col 3:11 says something almost identical, however, that epistle is not genuine, it was written long after Paul). Paul elsewhere refers to a blending of classes and genders within the church in his day. Only in the epistle to Philemon does Paul concede that there’s any validity to any class division, and that lies in his apparent support of slavery as it was practiced then.

Later on, however, we find the early church turning away from egalitarianism. In the gospels — written in the last quarter of the first century CE — we see references to people mainly by some sort of identifier (whether it’s ethnic, professional, or social class). In his parables and comments, Jesus uses stereotypes of these identifiers, sometimes ironically (e.g. the Good Samaritan). His reported interactions in the gospels are often with groups (e.g. he dressed down “the Pharisees”). Jesus also preached to the lower classes as though their plight had virtue in itself. In general, the gospels are written assuming that people fall into various fixed classifications, that this is how things were supposed to be, and that none other than Jesus Christ himself acted as though this was the case. In only one regard is Jesus said to have resisted the prevailing class-wisdom of his time, and this was by attracting “sinners” as followers.

Subsequent Christianity either stated explicitly, or implied, that social classifications, ethnicity, etc. were all God-ordained and that everyone was required to live within the strictures of his/her position in society. That remained the case until the Enlightenment. Even then, the notion of complete equality took a long time to develop. For instance, initially the United States gave voting privileges only to white landowning males. Suffrage was expanded only incrementally over the last 200 years. Also, slavery was legal in the early U.S. and was abolished only after the Civil War. Christianity’s teachings had little to do with this, at least for the first 16 centuries or so of its existence.

It’s true that equality movements like Abolition were comprised of many Christians who believed that Christianity taught to open freedom to others, but this was not universal in Christianity. The Southern Baptist Convention, for example, was founded by southern slave-owning Baptists who opposed the Abolitionist turn their denomination was taking in the 19th century. They, and other Christians, insisted that the Biblical “Curse of Ham” meant that God had rendered black Africans less-than-human.

It is correct to say that the concept of equality can, historically speaking, be viewed as anti-Christian (and anti-Judeo-Christian). Once again, by claiming otherwise, Santorum reveals his ignorance of both history and Christian theology. Well done, Rickie … well done!

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: PBS NewsHour.

* The seven epistles in question are: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philemon, Philippians, Romans, and 1 Thessalonians.

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Lauren Lancaster / Time / Greenwell Baptist Pastor Tony Perkins, right, and Pastor Dennis Terry, left, pray for Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's campaign at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, March 18, 2012.Readers of this blog are likely to know about the fire-&-brimstone preacher, Pastor Dennis Terry, who introduced presidential candidate (and vehement Christofascist) Rick Santorum this week, with a speech in which he ordered non-Christians to “get out” of this country. The Daily Beast reports on his thunderous declaration, with Santorum standing by (WebCite cached article):

At a Baton Rouge revival yesterday, the Republican presidential candidate was introduced and blessed by the fire-breathing pastor Dennis Terry. To a cheering crowd, Terry shouted that ours is a “Christian nation,” that “we don’t worship Buddha, we don’t worship Mohammad, we don’t worship Allah,” and that anyone who doesn’t like “the way we do things” should “get out.”

Of course, the gist of this article is Santorum’s reaction — or more accurately, his non-reaction:

Santorum said nothing. And when the time came to receive a blessing from Terry—right hand over Santorum’s shoulder, left hand on his back—Santorum accepted it, nodding in reverence.

Rightist defenders of this incendiary rhetoric are, of course, comparing it to the fiery speeches of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and the controversy they engendered while Obama was campaigning in 2008. This superficial appearance aside, the relationship between pastor and candidate is somewhat different … and far more explicit: The two were at the same event and on the same platform together. At the same time. With the pastor’s comments made clearly right in front of the candidate, who did not object in any way. Video of Pastor Terry’s tirade is available, courtesy of Right Wing Watch, via Youtube:

Beyond the political implications of this — which are obviously legion — I have something else to ask, here. If Pastor Terry is convinced that everyone in the US who’s not an evangelical Christian like himself needs to “get out,” then I invite him to begin making that happen, starting with me. Pastor, please, throw me out of your country. Locate me, come here, and toss me out on my cynical, skeptical, godless agnostic heathen ass.

Forget that it might be considered assault and you’d likely be arrested for it. I won’t report you for trying it, but even if I did, why should that matter to you? Isn’t your God more powerful than the state of Connecticut (where I live)? Aren’t the wishes of the Almighty more important to you than criminal laws?

If you’re truly and sincerely convinced beyond any doubt that your Jesus has decided it’s absolutely necessary for non-Christians like myself to “get out,” then why on earth would you not do everything in your power to make that happen? If it’s so clear-cut, why haven’t you already started throwing people out?

I reiterate: Pastor, I challenge you to throw me out of your “Christian-only” country. Please, do whatever you think you must, in order to make it happen. Go ahead. I sincerely, seriously, and eagerly await your attempt.

If you do what I expect you will do — which is to be a sniveling little coward and refuse to throw me or any other hideous non-believer out of your precious, believers-only country — that will be evidence you are not sincere in this belief, and that you espouse a philosophy you don’t actually hold. That of course would make you a hypocrite; and I remind you, your own Jesus explicitly forbid you ever to be hypocritical, for any reason, at any time.

P.S. It goes without saying that evangelical Protestants don’t consider Catholics — like Santorum — to be “‘real’ Christians.” They are, after all, just a bunch of Mary-worshipping papists. If the pastor had his way, then, Santorum himself would eventually have to “get out” of this “Christian-only” country.

Photo credit: Lauren Lancaster / Time magazine.

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Santorum smiles while recounting a story about his fatherI’ve blogged many times already about the tendency of propagandists and ideologues to use the fallacious reductio ad Hitlerum — or comparisons to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime — in their so-called arguments. People just can’t seem to stop using it, no matter how invalid it may be. I can understand its appeal; it’s a raw, emotionally-compelling talking-point that’s sure to trigger outrage in an audience. What makes it fallacious is that the comparison is never apt; whatever is being compared to the Nazis, usually has little in common with them.

The Washington Post relates the latest example of this, from the mouth of the furiously Christofascist presidential candidate Rick Santorum (WebCite cached article):

In a speech at a megachurch here Sunday night, former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) used some of his direst imagery yet to describe what’s at stake in this year’s presidential election, drawing an extended World War II analogy that seemed to suggest that the United States faces a threat that is on par with what the world faced in the 1940s. …

[Santorum said,] “Your country needs you. It’s not as clear a challenge. Obviously, World War II was pretty obvious. At some point, they knew. But remember, the Greatest Generation, for a year and a half, sat on the sidelines while Europe was under darkness, where our closest ally, Britain, was being bombed and leveled, while Japan was spreading its cancer all throughout Southeast Asia. America sat from 1940, when France fell, to December of ’41, and did almost nothing.

“Why? Because we’re a hopeful people. We think, ‘Well, you know, he’ll get better. You know, he’s a nice guy. I mean, it won’t be near as bad as what we think. This’ll be okay.’ Oh yeah, maybe he’s not the best guy, and after a while, you found out things about this guy over in Europe, and he’s not so good of a guy after all. But you know what? Why do we need to be involved? We’ll just take care of our own problems. Just get our families off to work and our kids off to school, and we’ll be okay.”

Santorum does not state explicitly who the cognate of “this guy over in Europe” is in his analogy, but clearly, he’s implying it’s president Barack Obama. The problem here is that Obama has not so much as come close to doing even one thing that Hitler or the Third Reich did, as I’ve already blogged; I’ll repeat some of those details here:

  1. Among the first things Hitler and his Nazi party did, once he became Chancellor in January 1933, was to outlaw other political parties, beginning with the Communists, then the Social Democrats, then the (Weimar) Democrats, the People’s party, the Centrists etc., eventually banning all parties other than their own. I’m not aware that Obama or the Democrats have even begun to make any moves along the lines of abolishing any other political parties.
  2. Hitler and the Nazis nationalized the country, dismissing the elected governments of Germany’s various states, and appointing Nazi operatives to run them. To my knowledge, neither Obama nor the Democrats have absconded with any of the 50 state governments; their elected governors and legislators remain in place.
  3. Prior to their seizure of power, Hitler and the Nazis had a freecorps or militia working for them, the Sturmabteilung (aka the S.A., Brownshirts, or storm troopers), who intimidated the Nazis’ opponents and rivals in the years leading to Hitler’s appointment, and which became their privately-run enforcement arm afterward (eventually spawning the dreaded Schutzstaffel, aka the S.S.). I haven’t heard that Obama or the Democrats have any such militia, at the moment.
  4. Hitler and the Nazis also took control of higher education in Germany, installing loyal Nazis to run the universities and expelling many professors (particularly Jewish) they deemed harmful to the regime or to Nazi ideology. But I haven’t heard that Obama or the Democrats have changed the management or faculty of any university or college.
  5. The Nazis also abolished all labor unions, forcing workers to join, instead, a nationalized agency, known as the German Labor Front (aka the D.A.F.) which essentially placed Germans at the whim of their employers. Not one union, on the other hand, has been outlawed since Obama took office … that I’m aware of, anyway.
  6. The people in charge of organizations that the Nazis abolished — such as rival political parties, the trade unions, etc. — were exiled and/or placed in concentration camps. These imprisonments numbered in the thousands, in the early years of the Nazi regime. I’m not aware that Obama or the Democrats have even come close to doing anything like this.

Put bluntly, it’s not correct to imply that someone is a Nazi, if s/he’s never done the things that the Nazis did.

As I’ve also remarked previously, the Left has thrown ad Hitlerums at the Right in the past, especially during the G.W. Bush administration. They were wrong to have done so, because the Bush administration didn’t do any of the above things, either. Still, that the Left used this tactic against them in the past, is why the Right feels entitled to use it, now. Unfortunately for them, though, this is two wrongs make a right thinking, and is fallacious. If it’s wrong to use ad Hitlerums, then it’s always wrong to do so … period.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Santorum would do this, though. As I’ve noted, he’s done this in the past. I can only assume he considers this a valid tactic, and that he’ll continue using it in the future. The really sad part of it, though, is that it will no doubt work for him. The sorts of people that Santorum is trying to reach already think Obama is a Nazi and are going to enjoy hearing him say it. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: IowaPolitics.Com, via Flickr.

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Rick Santorum addresses the Ohio Christian Alliance conference, Feb. 18, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. (Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay)The presidential campaign of Rick Santorum, former US Senator from Pennsylvania, continues to churn out ludicrous religiofascist gibberish. I’ve cited some of it previously, including his claim that the Crusades were not “aggression,” and his implication that the pro-choice movement are Nazis. Most recently he claimed President Obama had a “‘weird’ theology.”

It’s that last item that triggered the next spurt of Christofascist nonsense from his campaign. CBS News reports his spokeswoman was forced to take back comments she made in support of that assertion (WebCite cached article):

Rick Santorum’s new presidential campaign spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, retracted her comment Monday that compared President Obama’s policies to “radical Islamic policies.” …

“He was not questioning the president’s character, he wasn’t questioning the president’s religion,” Stewart said. “As he’s said, he has clarified the statement. He was talking about radical environmentalists. There is a type of theological secularism when it comes to the global warmists in this country. He was referring to the president’s policies, in terms of the radical Islamic policies the president has, particular in terms of the energy exploration.”

It’s true that Ms Stewart retracted these remarks, but they were said, so a retraction is like trying to un-ring a bell. And the fact that she said them, reveals a lot.

The problems with these comments are so numerous that I hardly know where to begin. First of all, she talks about “theological secularism,” which quite obviously is a contradiction in terms. There can never be anything “theological” about “secularism” because “secularism” is a rejection of “theological” influence.

Second, she talks about “global warmists.” I have never heard of this phrase before, although a Google search shows it’s not really new. It is a neat propaganda trick, to make “global warming” an ideology of its own. While some global-warming advocates may be ideologues, I’m not sure it really deserves that kind of a general apellation (not yet, anyway). But even if it did, there’s no evidence that president Obama adheres to it as an ideology.

Third, she said Obama has “radical Islamic policies.” This can’t be the case, though, because the president is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. This fits in with the old Rightist mantra that Obama is a Muslim — which is untrue, nevertheless it persists among Rightists.

What Ms Stewart was trying to do here is an old rhetorical trick, that of sprinkling certain keywords into her comments, ones the Santorum campaign hopes will trigger GOP primary voters to support him. In the process she ends up spewing nonsensical gibberish … nonsensical because it’s self-contradictory, and does not coincide with reality. That her remarks ended up being gibberish doesn’t matter; primary voters will have heard those keywords, and the implication that Obama is a Muslim, and will only remember that. Her retraction won’t matter to them, because they heard what they wanted to hear.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay, via CBS News.

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Rick Santorum CPAC FL 2011Religious Rightists tend to view all of Christianity as being their Christianity … whichever version of it they belong to … and see no difference between its many varieties. What’s worse, they sometimes extend this even further, and view all religions has being their particular version of their particular religion (i.e. Christianity). In other words, they tend to ignore differences between denominations and sects, and even between religions. All things religious are, therefore, conflated within their minds.

This tendency leads them into all sorts of nonsensical territories. One of which is the all-too-common statement, “S/he isn’t a Christian because s/he doesn’t believe X,” where “X” is some theological point that person holds to, but which other Christians might disagree on.

As CNN reports, the ferocious Religious Rightist and GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently used this type of reasoning to attack the incumbent president (WebCite cached article):

Rick Santorum drew applause from Ohio tea party voters – but perhaps raised some eyebrows, too – when he suggested Saturday that President Barack Obama leads based on a theology different from that in the Bible.

It left some wondering whether he was implying that Obama subscribes to a religion other than Christianity. …

“It’s not about your job. It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology,” Santorum said. “Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology. But no less a theology.”

Santorum is wrong on several counts. The most obvious of these is that lots of Christians have lots of different “theologies,” but each is no less of a Christian than the rest. And he must know this; after all, there are thousands of different Christian denominations in the world. More specifically, as a Catholic, Santorum must be aware that his Church has different “theology” than Protestant churches, which among other things refuse to acknowledge the Pope’s primacy and reject transubstantiation. Yet, I cannot imagine him complaining about the “different theology” of other Religious Rightists who happen to be Protestant.

Second, the many different theologies which the many Christian denominations hold, are all widely viewed as originating in the same Christian Bible. He can’t very well claim that Obama’s “theology” — whatever it is — can’t be based on the Bible, merely because it’s different from his own. History shows that devoted and sincere Christians can and do disagree on what their Bible tells them. Again, no Christian theology is appreciably less Christian or less scriptural than any other. They simply happen not to be identical.

Third, Santorum’s desire to conflate governance and theology directly contradicts the teachings of the founder of his own religion. Jesus Christ was very clear on the matter; three of the four evangelists report that he said the following:

  • Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s. (Mt 22:21b)
  • Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. (Mk 12:17b)
  • Render therefore to Caesar the things, that are Caesar’s: and to God the things that are God’s. (Lk 20:25b)

Jesus was very clearly apolitical and unconcerned with statecraft. He viewed government as being part of the physical realm and therefore of no importance; his preaching was about, instead, the spiritual realm, or the Kingdom of God. Santorum need only concern himself with this one lone theological point. No other “theology” ought to cross the mind — or the lips — of a dutiful Christian politician who claims to obey the words of his own Bible.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Rick Santorum by Gage SkidmoreReligious Rightists seem to lose their microscopic little minds when it comes to marriage … or more specifically, gay marriage. They hate it, and they don’t want gays to marry, but they have trouble articulating any rational reasons for their subjective distaste for it. The most recent example of their stupidity and ignorance about this subject, came when GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum — the new “darling” of the Republican primary now that he’s had a near-win in the Iowa caucuses — as reported by the Los Angeles Times tried to explain to a college audience why he thought gays should not be allowed to marry (WebCite cached article):

Santorum is an ardent, outspoken opponent of gay marriage, favoring an amendment to the Constitution that would define marriage as solely between a man and a woman. He received a rough welcome from a group of college Republicans in Concord — and it likely didn’t help matters when he compared a same-sex union to polygamy.

“Are we saying everyone should have the right to marry? So anyone can marry anyone else?” Santorum asked, according to a video by NBC News. “So anybody can marry several people?”

Video of Santorum’s idiocy can be seen courtesy of NBC News:

The logical (and legal) problem with equating gay marriage with polygamy is one I’ve pointed out before, and that is that a gay marriage is still a contract between two people (as is a current “standard” heterosexual marriage), whereas a polygamous marriage involves several people. They’re fundamentally different, with polygamous marriages being much more complicated. They are just not the same.

Although I’m pointing out that he said it, I must concede that Santorum’s “gay marriage equals polygamy” equation is not something he devised, it’s actually standard Religious Right rhetoric. However, when one couples this piece of stupidity with his claim 10 months ago that the Crusades were not Christian “aggression,” you clearly have a man who’s blithely unconcerned with facts of any kind and unburdened by rationality. On top of that, last weekend Santorum said he thought the US should be open about its covert operations in Iran (cached):

“We need to say very clearly that we will be conducting covert activity to do everything we can to stop their nuclear program.

I could be wrong, but last I knew, anything you were open and “clear” about cannot also remain “covert.” And if the infamous Stuxnet cyberattack hasn’t clued the world — and the Iranians, not to mention Mr Santorum — into the fact that the US is covertly trying to sabotage Iran’s nuclear-weapon efforts … well, then no amount of being “clear” about it is going to help.

Either Rick Santorum is one of the stupidest people on earth, or he’s acting as though he is, just to play up to Christofascist GOP primary voters; but neither of these conclusions is very comforting.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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